How to Attract Diverse Candidates

How to Attract Diverse Candidates

Discover strategies on how to attract diverse candidates and unlock the benefits of a diverse workforce.  


Most HR leaders know the importance of inclusivity in the workforce but struggle to attract diverse candidates. This is especially true in certain blue-collar industries. In this blog, we look at this all-too-common pain point and ways to help you promote diversity, make your workplace more inclusive, and reap the benefits of a diverse workforce 

Table of Contents

What Do We Mean by Diverse Candidates?

Before we get to the benefits and ways of attracting a diverse workforce, we need to establish first what a ‘diverse workforce’ means. When we talk about diverse candidates, we’re referring to a variety of things which include race, religion, culture, gender, neurodiversity, regional background, and socioeconomic class.  

group of diverse candidates

The word ‘diverse’ is sometimes used interchangeably for a person that’s not white, hetero and male. Other umbrella terms are also used in the UK – like BAME or BIPOC in the US. LGBTQ+ is also another universal umbrella term that’s known worldwide now.  


Asad Dhunna, founder and CEO of The Unmistakeables – a group dedicated to accelerating inclusion in organisations and in society had this to say on the matter:  


These acronyms simply refer to people who are not white, who are not cisgender, and who are not straight. They end up telling us what we’re not — as opposed to who we really are.” 


He goes on to say that organisations should be specific about what they mean when they say they need more diversity. Does the organisation need more women? More religious diversity? Whatever it is, he encourages organisations to think of specific ways to attract what they need. 


Benefits of Having a Diverse Workforce 

Now that we know what a ‘diverse’ workforce consists of, and the specifics that you should consider, we can look at the range of benefits a diverse workforce brings.  

three pictures showing candidate diversity

More Skills in Your Team 

Diverse teams bring a wide range of skills and experiences, which encourage innovation and creativity. Rocio Lorenzo and her team carried out a study of 171 companies in Germany, Austria & Switzerland and tested if more diversity in a company led to more innovation. The answer – an astounding yes 


When you have a team that’s made up of people from all different walks of life, you get new ideas, different ways of thinking. They’ll bring different skills and ways of doing things that will only strengthen an organisation.  


Different Perspectives 

A diverse workforce helps with innovation thanks to a range of different perspectives. The benefit of different perspectives in a team, is that it leads to better problem-solving and decision-making. 


Many companies sometimes misidentify their ideal customer. Their ideal customer profile might differ significantly in their wants, needs and behaviours. Diverse teams have a better chance of understanding and empathising with customers. 


In fact, data has shown that having a diverse workforce can significantly improve a customer’s experience 


Attracts More People to Apply 

According to information from Glassdoor, 76% of job seekers say diversity is an important factor when job hunting. In another study, 50% of job seekers believe diversity to be an important social issue and wanted to see if employers agreed. 45% believe a diverse company would be a strong indicator of whether they would enjoy working there or not.  


This is especially important in industries that tend to be white, male, hetero cisgender. In Canada, 47% of women working in trades, transportation, equipment operations & logistics have suffered some form of sexual harassment. 


In the UK, a survey found that almost half of Black British police officers suffered racism, bullying and discrimination from colleagues. If a workplace is not inclusive and diverse, you’ll be damaging the likelihood of people from all backgrounds applying. Most people want to fit in at work and be in an environment where they feel safe and can trust their colleagues and managers. If they don’t see that reflected on your website, company page, or social media, they won’t apply.  

group of employees sitting at a long desk

Improved Performance 

A Mckinsey & Company report found that companies that had a diverse workforce performed better financially. The report found a direct link between higher profits and a diverse workforce.  


But what’s even more interesting, is that the companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely, and those for gender diversity are 15% more likely to perform above the national average financially.    


How to Attract Diverse Candidates 

Now we’ve looked at just a handful of the benefits a diverse workforce can bring to an organisation, let’s look at how you can start attracting diverse candidates.  


Inclusive Job Ads 

Writing an inclusive job ad might leave many hiring managers scratching their heads, unsure of what that means. But the words we use have a big impact on how people perceive them. 

icon representing ideas

In 2011, a research paper titled ‘Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality’ found that women felt that job ads with masculine-coded language were less appealing and that they belonged less in those occupations. For men, feminine-coded adverts were only slightly less appealing and there was no effect on how much the men felt they belonged in those roles. 

An example of masculine coded words: Aggressive, Confident, Fearless 


An example of feminine coded words: Collaborate, Support, Honest  


Even though the study found feminine coded words were less effective at putting off men from applying, it’s best to avoid using any gender coded words. You can find the full list of gender coded words here. 


This applies for other forms of diversity too. You can cut cultural and racial bias by avoiding phrases like ‘Native English Speaker’, ‘Cultural Fit’ or ‘Clean Shaven’ unless there’s a Health & Safety reason (like in the Fire Service).  


This is also true for age diversity. If you litter your job ad with words and phrases like ‘work hard play hard’ or ‘young and energetic’ or ‘buzzing office’ you’ll be putting off older candidates from applying. 


Advertise Where the Audience Is Diverse 

Once you have an inclusive job ad ready to go, you’re going to want to advertise it in a space where the audience is diverse. Whilst you still can use national job boards and social media groups, there are dedicated groups to help companies find diverse talent.  


Sites like BME Jobs, evenbreak or female factor are all specialised job boards that you can also post to. Alongside that, your company could have open days at Universities, Schools or areas that are traditionally more diverse – like how in the US, companies visit HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) to hire graduates. You can then do the same thing with Social Media groups or even launch your own company initiatives. Creative Access for example, offers diverse candidates the opportunity to start a career in the creative industry. Companies could even replicate this approach if they wanted to.   


Showcase Your Company Culture 

By showcasing an inclusive work culture and other perks and company benefits, you’ll increase your chances of attracting all candidates. 76% of candidates say diversity is an important factor when deciding on what company they want to work for. In fact, one whitepaper by Robert Walters found that 69% of candidates asked about company culture during an interview.  

statistic on how to attract diverse candidates

That makes company culture one of the most asked and talked about topics in an interview. But why make the candidate ask when you can show them what your culture’s all about? You can do so on your website, on your social media pages, in-person events, it’s all an opportunity to show potential candidates what they could expect.  


Use a Blind CV Filtering Tool 

Unfortunately, there’s been a few studies carried out in the UK and the US that show foreign and ‘ethnic’ sounding names, are much less likely to have an application progressed.  


One way to help stop that is to use a blind CV filtering tool. That way, the tool ignores the name and focuses solely on the strength of the CV. It’s important to be aware that blind CV filtering may not always be perfect. Just be aware, hiring bias may have influenced your recruitment software to pick CVs that are like previous successful candidates. 


This happened to Amazon in 2018 and led to them scrapping their filtering tool. Regardless, with the right strategy, blind CV filtering is a great way to help remove unconscious biases. 


Use Employee Referrals 

You might also want to set up employee referrals. This survey revealed that candidates who are hired from employee referrals are much more likely to accept a job offer and stay with a company longer. On average, they’re also more productive.  


This might not come as a surprise. People will tend to trust friends and family working somewhere if they refer them for a position. On top of that, a referred candidate will likely not want to let their personal contact down or embarrass them. For diversity purposes, the power of referrals can go a long way.  


Knowing someone who resembles you (or shares an aspect of your identity) vouch for an organisation means that person doesn’t have to worry about not fitting in.  


How Can Recruitment Technology Help? 

There’s a lot to remember when it comes to attracting and hiring diverse candidates, but using recruitment technology can help massively.  


Centralising your recruitment activity in one place, like a hiring platform like occy, is a good place to start. occy makes the talent attraction process easier with features like job advert copywriting, smart job board posting, and a wide range tools that help you streamline the whole hiring process.  


Not ready to enquire about occy yet? Why not download our free eBook: 5 Steps to Attracting Candidates for more actionable tips on getting the best candidates into your business.  

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